Title: Seasons of Growth
Chapter 14: The Empty Cage
Author: November Tuesday
Rating: Here there be naughty words.
Summary: Kitty is laid to rest. Maggie has a tantrum. And other
Continuity: Series begins 3 years after X1.
Disclaimer: Marvel, Fox, Brian Singer yadda yadda yadda
Archive: Sure, and if it's someplace other than list archives, please
let me know.
Feedback: is my friend.
"The news that truly shocks is the empty, empty page.
While the final rattle rocks its empty, empty cage.
And I can't handle this...
I grieve, for you. You leave, me..."
After not speaking with her daughter in over five years, Terri Pryde
inexplicably decided that she wanted to have Kitty's remains buried
in a small graveyard near her house in Attleboro. Kitty had died
early on a Thursday morning; the funeral was on a Sunday.
Marie put on her black suit and put her hair up. Her eyes were puffy
and she didn't care.
"Maggie, get dressed, Essie's gonna be coming any minute."
"Don't wanna! I wanna go with you."
"Sweetie, it's going to be a long drive and you're awfully little to
be going to a funeral."
"I wanna see Miss Kitty! I don't wanna stay here."
Rogue's cell phone rang. It was Jubilee. "We're at the garage. Where
the hell are you?" She had planned to drive up to Attleboro with
Jubilee, Carter, Leah, Art, and Rakim.
"I'm waiting on Essie. Go ahead without me, I'll go with Xavier and
"Okay, I'll tell him."
"Thanks, Jubes. See you there."
Marie put down her makeup brush and went into the living room. "Come
The tantrums were coming more frequently now, same as the episodes of
Marie was frazzled. She gave Maggie every bit of attention she could,
but with midterms, and with Maggie being demanding and fearful, it
Maggie came over to her. Marie patted the couch, and she sat.
"You must really miss her, huh?"
Maggie nodded, playing with her doll's hair.
"I miss her too, baby. We're all sad. I'm really sad."
"It's not fair."
"I know, honey."
"Why can't I see her?"
"Honey, she's gone. None of us get to see her."
"It's not fair!" Maggie screamed, full of sudden rage. Though Marie
was glad she was expressing her feelings of loss, the fury in her
voice startled her.
"I bet you wish you could say goodbye to her, huh?"
"How come you all get to go and I can't?"
"Well, Kitty... Kitty's soul has gone to heaven, but all we're gonna
do today is bury her body."
"She'll get cold."
"No, baby, she won't feel the cold because her soul has gone away to
Maggie threw her doll violently to the ground. Its eyes fluttered and
closed. Marie chose to ignore that.
"Maggie, Kitty's momma is gonna be there and she's not a really nice
lady. She's mad at us because we're mutants and I don't want to take
you to the funeral because I think it could get nasty. You know how
some people get mean about mutants?"
"Well listen to me, sweetie, I know that you're hurting inside enough
because Kitty is gone. You don't have to be hurt more because Kitty's
family is being nasty. I don't want to take you with me because I
don't want you to be hurt."
Maggie just crossed her arms and glared.
"I have an idea, kiddo. How about when I get back we make a photo
album of pictures to remember her by. That way whenever you miss her
you can look at it and remember her. And this summer we`ll drive up
to Attleboro and see her grave. We can bring flowers from the garden
and put them there and you can say goodbye to her then, okay?"
"I wanna go."
"I'm not taking you today, Maggie, and that's final."
"But I wanna goooo!" Maggie was now whining and it was grating on
"I'm sorry, sweetie, but no."
"You're always leaving me, just like my other momma did."
Marie looked at her, stunned. She'd expected the anger, the
clinginess, the acting out, but that Maggie could be so manipulative
at the mere age of four surprised her.
She choked back her guilt and said "I will never leave you, Maggie,
because I love you. Today I am going away and I'll be back before you
go to bed tonight. I'll tuck you in and read you a story and that is
final." Marie pressed a kiss to the scowling girl's head and got up
to finish her makeup.
Esther arrived and Marie called "come in." She was fastening her
earrings when the phone started ringing. She was scrambling to find
it in the bedroom while Maggie started whining to Essie about the
injustices of not being allowed to go to Kitty's funeral.
~Rogue, we're leaving in three minutes.~ Xavier's voice called out.
Marie looked under piles of laundry for the phone. Finally, she found
it under her pillow.
"Yeah." She looked under her bed for her shoes and spotted them. One
was so far under that she couldn't reach it. "Who is this?" She got
flat on her belly and reached.
"It's Logan, kid."
She sat down on her bed, shoe in hand.
"You know, big hairy dude, metal claws."
"Hi." She was dumbfounded.
"Marie, Jean's here for you!" Essie called from the living room.
"I'll be right there!" she yelled. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I'm coming back."
"That's great." She said without smiling. Marie battled with the
little buckle on her shoe, resisting the urge to throw it.
"Coupla days, a week, I dunno."
"Logan, listen, I have to go. I'm running late for a funeral."
"No one I know, I hope?" Jean was standing in the doorway of her
"No, you didn't know her. Listen, I really have to go. You can call
me after ten tonight if you want."
"Okay. Are you okay, Marie?"
"I'm fine, I just have to go. I'll talk to you later. Bye." She hit
end and tossed the phone to the bed.
"Sorry Jean, every damn thing's going on at once."
Rogue threw on her coat, grabbed her purse, and fished her keys out
of the bowl by the door, all in one fluid motion. She touched Essie's
shoulder and said "thank you" and kissed Maggie on the cheek. Maggie
scowled. "I love you. I'll be home tonight."
She sat quietly in the van and no one noticed her withdrawal, given
the circumstances. She numbly tried to wrap her mind around the fact
that Logan was returning, after five years without so much as a
postcard. Had he actually called her kid? Anger coursed through her.
Jean turned around to look at her.
"What? Was I projecting?"
"Just a smidge."
"Just anger, not words. Wanna tell me why you're pissed?"
Rogue leaned forward. "Guess who that was on the phone."
Jean sat there, waited shrugged.
~Logan~, Rogue projected.
~They're burying my best friend today, my term paper is a week
overdue, I have three finals to study for, my child is telling me
that I'm a mean mommy for not taking her with me and just like her
real momma, Xavier's in my head telling me that we were supposed to
leave five minutes ago, I can't reach my damn shoe, and I'm supposed
to have time for his shit? I don`t fucking think so.~
"What did he want?"
"I have no idea. I don't care. I told him I didn't have time to
~That's really weird, five years, nothing, and now he calls.~
"Yeah, ya think? Great timing." Rogue was furious. Xavier turned
around and glanced at her.
When they got to the funeral home in Attleboro a few hours later, she
had forgotten all about Logan. They had come bracing themselves for
hostility, for resentment, but Terri Pryde had neither. She was
sitting in the front row sobbing. The rest of the family members
there looked at them with nothing more than idle curiosity.
Despite Kitty's wishes, Terri had insisted on an open-casket
ceremony. Rogue walked with Jubilee up the aisle to the casket, put a
supporting arm around her.
There was the smell of too many flowers. Rogue couldn't look inside
It seemed morbid to her to take a body and stuff it and embalm it and
make it up. Too much like the taxidermy displayed in her lecherous
uncle`s TV room. She focused on the scalloped edge of the wooden
Jubilee started shaking, sobbing in that quiet Jubilee way of hers,
the only thing she did quietly, and Rogue held her close. They were a
trinity lost without its third point.
The three of them had roomed together for the better part of three
years. They had shared the mastery of their powers, their academic
achievements, and had grown up together. These girls had held her
when missing Logan was too much to bear. They weren't afraid of her
skin, they just held her and called her Roguey and tried to direct
her attentions to other, attainable boys. They had studied for exams
together and railed against the teachers together and gotten into
fights together and been grounded together for getting drunk out in
the maze on pilfered whiskey. Two years later, they were full-fledged
X men, and they got legally drunk on the same whiskey, with the same
Rogue thought that she should look at Kitty, say goodbye. Her eyes
landed on the hands that were serenely crossed, one over the other.
Kitty's hands, in a pose that was a little trite, but Kitty's hands
nonetheless. She still couldn't move her gaze above the wrists.
They left shortly after paying their condolences. There would be no
drive to the cemetery, no graveside service. The earth was too hard
and cold to accept Kitty's body so she would have to wait in storage
until spring. There would never be anyone to call Kitkat again, or
help them peep in on the men's locker room, or to laugh her cackling
call when something was funny.
It was dark already on the drive home, winter pressing down darkly.
The sense of foreboding was so real to Rogue. She wondered if the
others could feel it too. Instead for stopping for a sit-down dinner
they went through a drive through and ate out of paper boxes. Nobody
said much. She didn't think about Logan. Didn't wonder what she was
going to say to him if he called tonight.
Finally they were home and Marie's mood brightened just a bit. She
was home, with her haven, and her little girl. She was inordinately
"Hi Momma!" Maggie said when Marie entered, as if the earlier tantrum
had never happened.
Essie was dozing on the love seat.
"Hi baby doll. I sure am glad to see you." Marie hung up her coat and
kicked off her heels and collapsed on the couch. "C'mere you little
booger." She grabbed her arms full of little girl and tickled.
Maggie wriggled and giggled. "I am not a booger."
"Yes you are, you're a big old booger. A green one." Rogue grinned.
Maggie giggled. "I am NOT a booger Momma!"
"No, you're my little blue angel." Rogue kissed her on her cheek and
held her close.
Essie stirred on the couch.
"Oh Marie, I didn't even hear you come in."
"That's okay, go back to sleep if you want."
"No, I better be goin'."
"Was she good for you?"
"She's my little buddy. We made cookies."
"You did? What kind of cookies did you make, Maggie?"
"Hmmmm. I'm gonna have her over to babysit you more often."
Later, she gave Maggie her bath and kept glancing at the clock. She
was almost rude to him. Maybe he wouldn't call. He hadn't called in
five years, why should he call now?
Don't expect it, Marie, she told herself. You expect it and he'll
Marie tucked Maggie in with a story and kiss and turned out the
light. She took her books and laptop to the kitchen table and forced
herself to study. Not to pine over Logan.
Trying to read her biology textbook was useless. Her eyes were
scanning the text about prokaryotes and eukaryotes, but her brain was
wondering, would he call? Where was he? Would he come back and pursue
Jean? Would she still feel the same way about him? Or would the old
crush slough away like so much dead skin? She knew that it was more
than that crush everyone had assumed she had, how cute, but with five
years of absence it was also much less. She didn't know if she
believed a thing he said.
It was ten-seventeen and trying to do bio reading was a joke. She
focused instead on writing the overdue paper, a "critical analysis"
of her professor`s pet Adrienne Rich essay. With this she had better
luck, and she nearly finished, at ten forty-seven, when the phone
startled her out of her wits.
Chapter 15 is up at novemberotica.com